Category Archives: Ideas

How to Start a Revolution or Revival

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How to Start a Revolution or Revival

There are lots of revolutions in this world. A revival is a spiritual revolution. There are fashion revolutions. Musical revolutions. Cultural revolutions. Political revolutions.

I propose that our nation is ripe for a revolution. Mostly it needs a spiritual revolution. We need the type of revolution that would look prayer and culture-changing-type lifestyles of the loving-kindness that Christ would be proud of.

We also need other types of revolutions. No matter what side of the political fence you sit on, you can see need revolutionary change in culture and politics.

How do revolutions start? There’s a great discussion at Top 40 Philosophy’s podcast #30 episode.

My paraphrase of  that podcast episode: Micah talks about revolutions being something that people find themselves doing when there is enough flow. Like emotions (or yawns), revolutions are contagious events that spread. Change for good or ill happens as the revolution spreads.

One of my favorite revolutions is the 1904 worldwide revival. It started in Wales. A young youth group pastor, Evan Roberts, was teaching his teens the necessity and power of prayer. He led them in prayer for repentance and personal revival, in prayer for their nation, in prayer for the world.

Evan Roberts Photo: wikicommons

Evan Roberts Photo: wikicommons

The Holy Spirit moved on those teens as they used their words in prayer. The move spread to the adults, then across Wales. By the end of 1906, the revival had hopped around the globe and landed in Azuza Street Mission in Los Angeles, CA. There was a revolution of prayer and Christ-like living for a time. It was a cross-cultural, multi-racial, multi-denominational move of God.

It started with prayer. AND words.

Evan Roberts used his words to describe for his teens a world-changing life of prayer.

I think it is this way with all revolutions: Words.

We humans are largely afflicted with a lack of words to describe what we feel and want to think. We simply muddle through our days knowing there are things that are wrong. Something’s wrong. But we can never fully describe the wrong, much less do something about it.

Then along comes someone who has words. That person uses his/her words to describe the wrong and propose a change. That person becomes a word-giver.

When people who don’t have words hear the word-giver’s words, they have a way to think about what is wrong or give names to the feelings they feel. When people accept the word-giver’s words, something in them ignites and they are ready to follow the word-giver. The follower-ship of the word-giver grows into a revolution. Things change.

When the word-giver is wise and good, the world is changed for the better.

We see this in little ways, like kids standing up for a bullied kid. It took one courageous kid to use his words to his friends, “Hey, let’s stand up for little Billy.” Others follow. Billy’s world is changed.

When the word-giver is greedy or cruel, ESPECIALLY if he is also loud and angry, the words fill the broken, angry parts of people’s souls and they follow him with zeal. These loud and angry words create a loud and angry revolution. It is quickly contagious. (I won’t give any illustrations from current culture where one can see a leader mock disabled people or greedily write orders that take advantage of, or harm, minority or disadvantaged populations because you might have already noticed this happening anyway.)

What’s the point? We can start a revolution.

  • How about WE become word-givers?
  • How about WE become the word-givers for a godly revolution to help create a world of loving kindness, looking out for the weak, aiding those in need of comfort, defending the strangers and the widows and the orphans.

How do we do it?

Use words.

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First, use words in prayer. (II Chronicles 7:14: If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and heal their land.)

Second, use words describing a better world.  Talk about a world of loving kindness. In order to do that, you need to imagine what that world would be like. (The Old Testament word for that kind of world is held in the word, Shalom. Do a word study on Shalom. It will give you hope.)

Third, increase your vocabulary so that you can better describe a better world. Read:

  • Thinkers, philosophers
  • Poetry
  • Scripture

Fourth, write your words. Write the words about a better world (Habakkuk 2:2 talks about writing the vision and make it clear so that those who read it can run with it.) Social media, blogs, journals, and books need written words of a better world.

The more that there are word-givers who speak prayerful loving kindness, the more chance we have to stand up to those word-givers of greet and hatred.

Will you join me in the good kind of revolution and revival?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Not to be a Loser

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You don’t want to be a loser, right? (Not quoting anyone, right?)

Anyway, I reckon a loser might be someone who refuses to pull their spiritual weight in a time of great need.

If you want to be a true contributor to the spiritual condition of our nation and our national government, please dedicate yourself to these things:

*Pray for the leaders. No matter who they are, we have a biblical mandate in I Timothy 2:1-2

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority…

*Pray in personal repentance for the nation. Sometimes we don’t like to think that we good Christians need to be repenting, but the mandate is there. God commanded Solomon that when rotten stuff happens:

If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.

There’s plenty of rotten stuff right now, so I reckon this is a good time for repentance and prayer. I wonder if a loser would think he didn’t have anything to repent of?

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*Stand with, stand up for and do what you can to help: the weak, the defenseless, the poor, the widow, the orphan, the stranger in our land. (But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:34 BibleHub.com).

This is not a time to sit in our spiritual comfy chairs, making ourselves richer and self-consumed, like the rich man in Luke 12 who decided to tear down his barns to make bigger ones to hold all his goods- that night God required his life. I reckon that guy was a loser…

A contributing Christian is looking out for those who cannot look out for or defend themselves. As James 1:23,27 says:

Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves…Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

And Isaiah 58:6

Is not this the fast I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

*Be more gracious in your speech than ever. Bullies and uncouth people mock, jeer, and humiliate others. A loser has so little goodness that he must resort to such things. This is not the behavior of a child of God.

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how ye ought to answer every man.

There may be a time when you may need to assertively call someone in authority a “white-washed sepulcher”. Jesus did. God will let a humble and repentant soul know when that needs to be said.

Bullied Bullying Scare Torment Force Concept

*Do not fear. That’s what bullies and sick people want you to do. If you fear, they have control over you.

INSTEAD: Remember, you are the child of the Living God, the dunamis power of the Holy Spirit dwells in you.

I remember the old Southern “blessing”, when uppity people need to be put in their place. We’d look at that person and say: “Well, bless your heart.”

It follows Christ’s exhortation in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:44):

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.

*Overcome that evil with good (that’ll heap some coals of fire on his head)…Romans 12: 20-21. Every time there is an evil, go out and make something good happen. A loser would harm, belittle or take advantage of people for his own greed and lust. Let’s fill our nation with so much good it makes evil fearful!

*Find things of beauty. All creation is praising God- you do it, too. Find a sunset, a bird, a river, a painting, a song. Don’t be so overwhelmed with the losers in the world that you miss the gifts God is giving you.

This is a time for prayer, courage and virtue in the power of the Holy Spirit. May it be a time we Christians are not losers, but instead: glorify God.

The Gift of Noticing

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The Gift of NoticingEver known a friend for a long time and think you know her well- even predictably?  Then, all of a sudden that person begins a new behavior, comes up with a radically new idea, or shares part of the past you never knew? It is surprising but the revealing shows that that friend trusts you with this new information. It is our part to notice the new thing, to attend to what our friend is saying with her words or actions.

Sometimes I feel like I treat God like a comfortable old friend. I learned all about Him in Bible school. I graduated from a Christian university with a Bible minor. Been serving Him for years. I know Him well, comfortably, predictably…like an old, comfortably-bored married couple that doesn’t notice much about each other anymore.

Good heavens! Who am I talking about? The God of the universe? Dull, predictable, ploddingly pleasant? Oops.

Scripture should be enough to help cure that thought pattern: Lamentations 3:23 reminds us that His mercies are NEW every morning. (Plural mercies, NEW, daily)

I’ve started to notice that when I slip into comfotable ploddingness, God blesses me with the senses to notice something new. Today it was the beauty of learning a new bluebird song (Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord). God gave me the gift of noticing it. I want to develop that gift- I don’t want to plod.

Often the new thing to notice comes in a normal-life disruption. Paula D’Arcy says, “God comes to you disguised as your life.” (As in, He is running the universe, not me- despite the fact that I think I give Him pretty good advice from time to time…I need to notice what He’s doing and work with Him, not kick against Him.)

If I notice, notice, notice those new mercies each day, I might truly get to know the Christ who calls us friends, God who creates those mercies.

Jesus, Postmodernism and Doubt by Angela O’Shaughnessy

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I asked my friend, Angela O’Shaughnessy to allow me to share her thoughts about some of the writings of Peter Rollins. Rollins is a postmodern “theologian” who seems to delight in destroying faith.

Just like post-modern philosophy, post-modern theology believes in no-absolutes (so there’s nothing to believe in). I want to be clear that I don’t think post-modernism and a loving, saving God work together (I’ll bet Rollins would agree with me on that). I don’t think post-modernism works with the basic tenets of our faith- simple things like the Apostle’s Creed and the inspiration of Scripture. Anyway, here are Angela’s thoughts on  Rollins’ book, The Orthodox Heretic.

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I was recently “introduced” to post-modern philosopher Peter Rollins.  Rollins’ motto is “To believe is human; to doubt, divine.”

The main reaction I have as I read Rollins’ work is confusion.    Paul wrote a great deal of the New Testament to clear up confusion in the church. He wrote in I Corinthians 14:33: “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.”  I believe when God speaks to us, He desires to give us clear answers.  He doesn’t use discord or sneak in the back door.

From the front of Rollins’ book The Orthodox Heretic: “Religious writing is usually designed to make the truth of faith clear, concise, and palatable.  Parables subvert this approach.  In the parable, truth is not expressed via some dusty theological discourse that seeks to educate us, but rather it arises as a lyrical dis-course that would inspire and transform us–a dis-course being that form of (mis)communication that sends us spinning off course and onto a new course.”…”This does not mean that the words contain no message, or that they mock us as some insoluble puzzle (and thus not really as a puzzle at all).  Parables do not substitute sense for nonsense, or order for disorder.  Rather they point beyond these distinctions, inviting us to engage in a mode of reflection that has less to do with fixing meaning than rendering meaning fluid and affective.”

Jesus did not use miscommunication to throw people off course.  He told stories to make a point, and he used word pictures to which listeners could relate in order to make his point more clear.  His meanings were not “fluid and affective.”  They are eternal.  If you read some of Rollins’ writings, he does indeed seem to thrive on contradiction, nonsense and disorder.  He states clearly on his blog that he is a universalist.

In The Orthodox Heretic, there is a story called “Finding Faith” which tells of a businessman with a “deep, abiding faith.”   Again, there is confusion and miscommunication.  For example, it said that “the businessman possessed a deep, abiding faith, and love of Christ.”  He meets a preacher with the unusual “gift” of praying for people and having them lose their faith.  After chatting for a bit, the preacher offers to pray for him, and the businessman readily agrees.  The story tells us,  “After the preacher had uttered a simple prayer, the man opened his eyes in astonishment.  ‘What a fool I have been for all of these years!  It is clear to me now that there is no God above who is looking out for me, and there is no sacred text to guide me, and there is no Spirit to inspire and protect me.’”  He now had no religious beliefs, had a breakdown, gave up his work, gave all his wealth to the poor and helped the oppressed.  In the end, he ran across the preacher again and said, “Thank you for helping me discover my faith.”  I understand that we sometimes need a fresh perspective to remind us of an old truth. I know that religious activity does not a Christ-follower make.  However, giving up a deep, abiding faith and love of Christ, discrediting the presence of God, the truth of Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit to go out and do good works is definitely not true Christianity either.  In fact, I’d call that heresy.

Bottom line, I guess I just don’t see Peter Rollins’ place in the life of a Bible-believing Christian.